Daily News Roundup

July 24, 2020


** UPDATED 4:15pm

The Federal Treasurer is keen on a coronavirus baby boom, urging Australians to have more children if for no other reason than to help grow the population and economy.

While not going as far as former Coalition treasurer Peter Costello’s infamous call for couples to have a child for the country, Josh Frydenberg said the closure of international borders had halved Australia’s population growth.

Population growth has been integral to the almost three decades of economic growth prior to the deadly coronavirus pandemic taking hold and sending Australia into a recession.

“So I won’t go as far as to say, like Peter Costello, ‘one for the mother, one for the father and one for the country’, but I can say that people should feel encouraged about the future and the more children that we have across the country, together with our migration, we will build our population growth and that will be good for the economy,” he said.

“I think the best thing we can do to encourage more children being born across the 

In his speech to the National Press Club, Mr Frydenberg said population growth was expected to slow to 0.6 per cent in 2021, the lowest rate since 1916-17. His speech came as Victoria recorded 300 new cases of coronavirus overnight and six more deaths, taking the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 55. Premier Daniel Andrews said three of the people who died were in their 90s and three were in their 80s. All were connected to aged care settings, he said.

Of the new cases, 51 were connected to known outbreaks while 249 were under investigation. Six deaths is a new single-day record in Victoria, and comes after a record-high of five deaths was announced yesterday. Seven deaths were recorded nationally on April 7, the highest daily national toll.

The Premier said while today’s number of new cases is lower than yesterday’s, no-one should be “trying to provide definitive commentary that we’ve turned corners or we’re at a peak or any of that”. There are now 206 Victorians with coronavirus in hospital, including 41 in intensive care.

Meanwhile, after three weeks of being allowed to stand and consume drinks in licensed venues, Queenslanders will be again forced to sit by the state’s Chief Health Officer. Jeannette Young said the decision was in response to the worsening outbreaks in Victoria and New South Wales.

“I’m reimposing that restriction [and] it starts today,” Dr Young said.

“It’s a requirement [to sit] and there will be compliance.”

At this stage, the density of people allowed in venues remains the same, with one person allowed per every 4 square metres, or one person per 2 square metres in smaller venues or a cap of 50 people.

“So the density requirement didn’t change, but people could stand,” Dr Young said.

“But because I’m more worried, as you can tell, about what is happening in southern states, I think we need to go back and just enforce it.”

Patrons will still be allowed to approach the bar to buy a drink but will then have to return to sitting at a table. Dr Young said it was easier for people to maintain a 1.5-metre distance from one another when they were seated.


A senior Melbourne intensive care nurse says hospitals are preparing for the prospect of deaths among younger Victorians as authorities battle to rein in the state’s coronavirus cases, reports the ABC.

The head intensive care unit nurse at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Michelle Spence, said there was a growing number of younger adults being hospitalised by the virus.

“What we are seeing now is young people who are going to die. There is no doubt about it,” she said.

“And these are people who are 30s, 40s, 50s, who have no past history.”

She said deaths in Victoria had so far predominately been in older people, but that would change.

Yesterday, authorities revealed 20 per cent of people in Victorian hospitals with the virus were aged under 50, including four children.

The figures also showed a quarter of COVID-19 infections were being recorded in people aged in their 20s.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital has acquired a further 22 ventilators as the intensive care unit prepares for a surge in cases.

Ms Spence, who is the hospital’s ICU nurse manager, said the hospital had patients ranging from their 30s to their 80s “and all of them are at varying degrees of their COVID journey”.

“We’re definitely not just seeing the elderly, that is not the case at all.”


Queensland’s Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey has directed his department to review whether the state’s New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains contain parts sourced from slave labour factories in China.

Earlier this week, the US Government announced it had blacklisted KTK and 19 other companies from future contracts, after finding they were implicated in human rights abuses against Muslim Uyghurs in China.

The Queensland Government has an ongoing relationship with KTK, and Mr Bailey said he had now directed his department to determine the extent of the existing contracts.

“My department is urgently investigating KTK Australia’s role in the New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) project that was manufactured overseas,” Mr Bailey said.

“KTK supplied parts for the NGR trains that were built overseas several years ago, and we’re aware KTK has also previously been contracted as a supplier of parts and components for other rail projects in Sydney and Melbourne.”

Mr Bailey said the Government condemned human rights abuses of any kind, and expected QTECTIC, as the maintainer of the NGR trains, to arrange alternative suppliers as soon as possible.

Queensland’s NGR trains are being modified at a cost of $335 million to become compliant with the federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

“The contract to design and construct the fleet of 75 new passenger trains overseas was signed by the former Newman LNP Government,” Mr Bailey said.

“The contract to manage and maintain the NGR fleet under a public-private partnership structure was also struck under the Newman LNP Government.

“Under that structure, the QTECTIC consortium is responsible for the ongoing management and maintenance of the NGR fleet.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs said procurements were a matter for State and Territory Governments.


United States President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen will be released from prison and will go into home confinement after a federal judge found he was subjected to retaliation for planning to publish a book about the President ahead of November’s election.

Cohen, who had been released in May, was sent back to prison after questioning a provision in a new series of conditions that US probation officers asked him to sign.

The provision barred him from publishing the book, engaging with news organisations and posting on social media.

US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ordered Cohen released from the federal prison in Otisville, New York, about 110 kilometres north-west of New York City to his son.

“I make the finding that the purpose of transferring Mr Cohen from furlough and home confinement to jail is retaliatory and it’s retaliatory because of his desire to exercise his First Amendment rights to publish a book,” Judge Hellerstein said.

Judge Hellerstein said he had never seen such a gag order in his 21 years on the bench.

During the hearing, Assistant US Attorney Allison Rovner said that Cohen and his attorney had also questioned or objected to other provisions in the agreement, including pre-employment approval and electronic monitoring.

She also said probation officer Adam Pakula found Mr Cohen “combative.” The judge disagreed.

“It seems to me what Mr Pakula saying is combative is an attorney’s effort to negotiate an agreement,” Judge Hellerstein said.

Mr Cohen’s lawyer, Danya Perry, called the order a “victory” for the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech, and said she appreciated the judge’s ruling that the government cannot block Cohen from publishing a book that is critical of the President as a condition of his release.



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